Provincial cabinet ministers were unable to offer municipal leaders any solutions Friday to the long-time challenge of growing Northern Ontario.
Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault and Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry participated in the “bear pit session” at the annual Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference in North Bay, where they were asked about how to bridge the gap between the Greater Toronto Area, which is experiencing tremendous growth, and the North, where the population is declining in most areas.
Unfortunately, the three couldn’t provide a cure-all for the North’s woes. “We can do a lot more to talk about promoting growth and expansion in Northern Ontario by utilizing the facilities that we already have,” said Thibeault, referring to post-secondary institutions such as Canadore College and Nipissing University.
“And lets also talk about immigration. We can utilize more immigrants to take some of the jobs we have up here. When we are booming, we’re constantly looking for skilled labour. But we never seem to fill that gap.” Thibeault, who represents the Sudbury riding, said part of the solution is simply “letting people know how great it is up here.
“We really are a jewel in this province. And – you know what – if more people recognized that, we would see more people coming up here,” he said. Mauro, who represents Thunder Bay-Atikokan, echoed Thibeault’s sentiments, but noted that small communities everywhere are facing similar issues.
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